I come to you today to argue for the benefits of the out-of-the-blue career change and the many unadvertised merits of dogwalking as a gig. I worked a nondescript office job in downtown Chicago for several years that involved: meetings, sitting at a desk, talking about the weather and/or Chicago sports teams with what were essentially strangers, and more meetings. I’m sure this rings true for many of you reading this. Not to cast judgment; if you like the office setting and you find value and fulfillment in what you do, I fully support that. I didn’t really find either at my place of employment and I was looking around for something else. Luckily I had some connections with Home Treat Home and after crunching some numbers and drumming up some freelance work, I made it work. It ended up being a great decision. If you’re looking to change careers, dogwalking is a good choice. It grants you a series of virtues that are unique to the position. AND HERE THEY ARE:
Exercise. Who woulda thought that walking 5-10 miles a day would be good for the body? Certainly better than sitting in a lumpy office chair for 9 hours a day.
Flexibility of schedule. Typically the middle of the day is busy, but other than that you can mold your daily life in any way you’d like. This makes the job great for freelancers or creatives of any stripe.
Navigation. I know the north side of Chicago like the back of my damn hand at this point. I can tell you how to get anywhere. I know where construction is. I know where potholes are. Hell, I know where potholes WERE.
Enriches city life. If you walk and bike around the city for hours every day, you will talk to people of every kind. Some of these conversations are wonderful. Some of them are mildly frightening. All of them deepen and broaden the experience of living in one of the biggest cities in the world. You will also see: great architecture; wonderful parks; the seasons change; various flora and fauna; random weather events; etc.
Patience. Dogs are essentially babies that can’t talk and will eat chicken bones at every opportunity. Much like what I imagine dealing with children is like, dealing with canines demands patience and understanding. They will literally do things detrimental to their own wellbeing and FUCKING LOVE DOING IT. You will want to get mad at them but they are just dogs so you must patiently help them instead.
The affection of dogs. This dovetails with the last point: if you treat dogs with respect, patience, and understanding, they will give you undying love, affection, and loyalty in return. That’s a damn good (and rare) deal.
Time management. Walking 10-18 dogs a day creates some razor thin margins timewise. Basically, dogs are giant grenades full of pee and poop and the pin gets pulled out as soon as their owner leaves for work. Luckily the time to detonation is usually several hours, but you are ever aware of that loose pin on the ground as the time ticks by. Walking dogs grants you the ability to instantly change your schedule and/or route to manage these canine bags of effluvia.
Time to listen. I’m a big fan of music, podcasts, and audiobooks and I have listened to thousands of hours of content while walking dogs. If you also like listening to audio, you can do so unperturbed as a dogwalker.
Introversion/extroversion training. Dogwalking can be as solitary or as communal as you want. You can spend the whole day silently jogging with dogs or you can meander in the park and mingle with the hoi polloi. The best part is that it’s up to you!
Freedom. Working off that last point, the only thing you have to do is walk the dogs you have in their desired time range. This affords a delightful sense of freedom to the day, as you are not locked in an office from 8am to 6pm. Do you need to go grocery shopping? Bring a backpack and go nuts. Do you need to pick up a last minute gift for someone’s birthday? Stop in at any store you’d like and peruse the shelves. Oh check it out a farmer’s market, you should go. Oh look it’s the tamale guy, you should totally buy a tamale. IT’S THE DAMN AMERICAN WAY BABY!
There are undoubtedly many other benefits to walking dogs, but these are the main ones for me. If you are interested in checking it out please check out our Job Opportunities page! Enjoy your weekends!